EXCLUSIVE | Meera Sharath Chandra, Tigress Tigress: The ultimate reality check [Year-Ender 2020]

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Meera Sharath Chandra, Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Creative Officer of Tigress Tigress, is an established professional in the digital and integrated communication space with 35 years of global experience, managing both, head-of-creative and head-of-agency responsibilities.

Meera is a consistent international award winner and has been on the cyber juries of Cannes Lions, One Show, Clio, Art Directors Club, D&AD, Caples and New York Fest; often multiple times.

Meera has worked across the US, the UK, Hong Kong and India. She has been on the global task forces of Ford, Unilever, Citibank and Nestle. She has been Executive Creative Director – Momentum Worldwide UK, Managing Director – Syzygy UK, President & National Creative Director – RMG Connect (JWT), National Creative Director across five DDB units in India, and has spent over a decade at JWT across geographies. As an entrepreneur, she has also been on the board of an Intel-funded dot com enterprise.

A keynote speaker at international conclaves like the World Health Organization – Geneva, Latin American Advertising Festival and Eurobest, she is also a pro bono contributor towards the WWF ‘Save The Tiger: initiative. She is a mentor at the School of Communication Arts, London.

Meera, who, during the lockdown,  has authored a book on consumer-brand dynamics, The Me Era, has written us an exclusive piece on 2020, the year that ‘forced us to hit the reset button… think about who we really are, how we approach life, and what matters most’. And much more.

Read on.

The ultimate reality check

It’s amazing how a New Year’s Eve countdown can fill the world with renewed optimism. We were, I am sure, smiling behind our masks as we engaged in socially-distanced toasts and virtual hi-fives. Not because the problems have gone away, but because we found it in ourselves to reboot.

2020 might have been the most traumatic year yet, but it did force us to hit the reset button. It made each one of us, without exception, stop and take stock. It made us think about who we really are, how we approach life, and what matters most.

For those in communications and marketing, this was a masterclass in changing attitudes and behavior. Ingrained habits gave way to new routines, with a speed most brands would never have imagined possible. The rule book was getting written in real-time.

Ingrained habits gave way to new routines, with a speed most brands would never have imagined possible. The rule book was getting written in real-time: Meera Sharath Chandra

Consumers met the unexpected with resilience

We became consumers of a very different kind – making do with surprisingly less, going back to essentials, living almost 100% online, reaching out with amazing generosity, showing solidarity with the world.

We studied, celebrated occasions, conducted business – on zoom, in our jammies, on our couches. We used the downtime for self-discovery, channeling our inner chef, artist, gardener, gym buff, blogger – and announced our new selves proudly on social media.

Companies turned their products into mindful brands, tweaked their services into ‘to-go’ models, and spotlighted their purpose-led strategies. Organizations reoriented their policies around their people with a responsive and responsible approach: Meera Sharath Chandra

I nudged my inner author too and wrote about this very subject in The Me Era: how consumers are turning into distinctive personal brands and brands are eager consumers of this new franchise-of-one.

For us, in the business of crafting brand narratives and experiences, this was an inflection point. We now had to make sure we were on-point despite the changing customer mindset.

Businesses reframed themselves with purpose

Corporations too, allowed us to embrace the new normal. Those in eCommerce, education, pharma, social outreach, essential services and technology flexed their innovative muscle to make life easy and more livable.

Companies turned their products into mindful brands, tweaked their services into ‘to-go’ models, and image-exclusive-meera-sharath-chandra-tigress-tigress-mediabrief.jpgspotlighted their purpose-led strategies. Organizations reoriented their policies around their people with a responsive and responsible approach. Professionals, especially those on the frontline, shared generously of their expertise.

In a world looking to businesses for solutions, we worked with companies transitioning into social enterprises. Helping them communicate their mission and impact, both internally and externally, has been a truly fulfilling exercise.

Brands became powerhouses of emotional support

Brands met their customer franchise with a lean-forward strategy and a safety-first approach. Challenges in marketing brought out the innovative streak – and the online world delivered with unfailing precision.

To top it all, brands turned their communication properties into delightful solutions and messages of encouragement. Thai Airways, for instance, rewarded customers with miles for staying at home and not traveling. Nike encouraged lockdown fitness with contactless partner workouts and a rousing ‘You Can’t Stop Us’ campaign. Lego’s superheroes taught kids how to stay safe. Budweiser did a quarantine version of their classic Wassup with #TogetherAtADistance. Ikea’s ‘Hello, I’m your house’ repositioned the home and approached staying indoors with a new perspective.

We worked with brands that have consciously linked profit to the purpose and have driven change with concrete action. We also worked with humanitarian organizations to help them leverage the power of the collective for real and present issues.

Footnote: 

I started Tigress Tigress 8 years ago with a business model built entirely online – with specialist alliance partners from around the world, pulled together in a just-in-time model for every assignment.

It was to demonstrate that if you are a digital agency working across geographies, you must be able to work totally digitally too. At that time, we were the new abnormal. But today, we don’t have to change a thing – we just have to keep on keeping on.

Our focus has always been on creating new revenue streams for brands – in the aftermath of 2020, this has only become more relevant. Now, brands need to find newer ways to engage – new audiences, new markets, new shoulder niches, new products, and innovations.

Being passionately digital-centric and purpose-driven has also seen us get on with business, despite the challenges in the industry. We are bullish about 2021 and believe our niche branding specialization can inform future-facing strategies and help marketers move the needle.

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